What are gophers, moles & voles?

Gophers, moles, and voles are all types of lawn and garden pests that live throughout California.


Gophers are large, powerful rodents with stout bodies, short necks, and blunt noses. They are covered in tannish or brown fur, and they use their short front legs and claws to tunnel through the soil. Gophers also have external cheek pouches that they use to carry the food they have gathered.


Moles are not rodents; they are insectivores. These pests have small, stocky bodies covered in dense, dark brown, or black velvety fur and large front feet and rounded claws that they use to move through the soil. These ground-dwelling creatures have small eyes, poor vision, and ears without external openings. They have a short naked or sparsely haired tail and a hairless pointed nose.


Voles are rodents that spend a lot of their time tunneling in the ground. They have small oval-shaped stocky bodies covered in chestnut-brown fur, and short legs, and a short tail. Their ears are covered in fur and hidden by the fur on their head.

a meadow vole in a tarp in sacramento california

Are gophers, moles & voles dangerous?

Gophers, moles, and voles are tunneling pests that live in and feed on our lawns, gardens, and landscaping plants. Their feeding habits can cause extensive and unsightly damage that can be time-consuming and expensive to replace.

The unsightly matrix of tunnels and dirt mounds that they can create in our yards, along with the damage they cause to trees, grass, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, are just a couple of the reasons why they are so unwanted. Other reasons they are dangerous include:

  • These animals carry parasitic fleas and ticks on their bodies that they infest our properties with. Fleas and ticks feed on the blood of people and our pets.
  • When gophers tunnel under foundations, they can cause structural damage.
  • As these animals tunnel through the ground, they can damage underground wires, pipes, and cables.

Why do I have a gopher, mole, or vole problem?

These pests are active year-round, and yards located next to or near large open spaces being most susceptible to damage by these pests. Fields, golf courses, meadows, parks, farmland are outdoor habitats where these pests thrive. Unfortunately for us, the healthier your yard is, the more likely you will be to experience problems with these pests. Loose, moist soil allows the plants and insects these pests feed on to thrive.

Where will I find gophers, moles & voles?

Gophers, moles, and voles are all primarily outdoor pests; that is where their natural nesting sites and food sources are. These pests will rarely find their way into your California home.

If voles live in your yard, you will notice their “runways” they use to travel back and forth from their food sources to their burrows. Their runways are most noticeable in grassy areas making our yards a likely place to discover vole damage.

Moles tunnel through the ground in lawns, vegetable gardens, and flower beds, searching through the soil for their favorite foods - earthworms and insects.

Gophers are most active in areas with loose, sandy soil. Gophers burrow through the ground, creating highly developed burrowing systems with hundreds of tunnels, making it difficult to pinpoint these pests and eliminate them from your property. 

How do I get rid of gophers, moles & voles?

Any property can become victim to lawn and garden pests like gophers, moles, and voles. At the first signs of these pests in your yard, call for immediate help to remove them as quickly as possible, minimizing their damage. At HomeShield Pest Control, getting rid of pests using eco-friendly products that are effective and protect the safety of our customers and their families is our top priority.

If you live in the Sacramento Valley or Southern California area and would like to learn more about our residential pest control services and the steps we will take to trap and remove gophers, moles, or voles from your property, reach out to HomeShield Pest Control today!

How can I prevent gophers, moles & voles in the future?

Below are some of our most helpful tips to protect your California yard and home from the gophers, moles, and voles that call our region home.

  • Remove brush piles, woodpiles, and overgrown vegetation from your yard that they can use as hiding spots.
  • Maintain your lawn and mow it regularly to keep the grass short.
  • Don’t overuse mulch; voles and other garden pests like to tunnel through areas of dense mulch.
  • Place wire mesh or sheet metal guards around the trunks of trees to prevent voles and other garden pests from chewing on their bark.
  • If possible, use raised planting boxes in garden areas to prevent garden pests from digging through your gardens and damaging the plants.
  • Preventing problems with these lawn and garden pests is very difficult; the best way to avoid problems with these animals is to partner with an experienced professional!

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